World News

President Barack Obama formally notified the U.S. Congress on Monday that he had authorized air strikes and humanitarian airdrops over the weekend in the Iraqi Shi’ite town of Amerli where Islamic State militants had trapped the civilian population.

Iraqi security forces backed by Shi'ite militias on Sunday broke the two-month siege of Amerli and entered the northern town after the U.S. military carried out air strikes on militant positions and delivered emergency supplies to residents there.

Obama said in a letter to congressional leaders he was notifying Congress of his decision under the long-standing War Powers Resolution, which gives presidents authorization for temporary military action. The operation was launched on Saturday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday called on Ukraine to immediately start talks on a political solution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

Hours later, Ukraine said a border guard vessel operating in the Azov Sea was attacked by land-based forces. Pro-Russian rebels have recently opened a new offensive along the seacoast.

Putin's comment, made to national TV network Channel 1, said Ukraine should "hold substantive, meaningful talks, not about technical issues but about the question of the political organization of society and statehood in southeast Ukraine, with the goal of safeguarding the legitimate interests of those people who live there."

Iraqi troops aided by U.S. airstrikes entered the besieged town of Amerli Sunday, residents and Iraqi officials said, after a months-long blockade by Islamic State militants that had surrounded the Shiite Turkmen village and raised fears of an impending massacre.

“Amerli has been liberated,” said Mahdi Taqi, a local politician and Amerli resident who was inside the town during the siege. “There is so much joy and people are cheering in the streets.”

Jihadists had surrounded the town in June, preventing food and other aid from reaching the population there. Residents had armed themselves to fend off the militants, who have made sweeping gains across the country in recent months, but critical supplies began to run low.

A significant aftershock from last weekend's magnitude-6.0 earthquake has rattled Northern California's wine country.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude-3.2 tremor struck five miles south of the city of Napa just before 2 a.m. Sunday.

Thomas Brocher, director of USGS' Earthquake Science Center, says it wasn't the strongest aftershock to rumble the region since the main quake a week ago caused as much as $1 billion in damage and multiple injuries.

A federal judge in Austin, Texas, blocked a stringent new rule yesterday that would have forced more than half of the state’s remaining abortion clinics to close.

The rule, requiring all abortion clinics to meet the building standards of hospital-style surgery centers, was to take effect on Monday.

But in his opinion, Judge Lee Yeakel said the mandate placed an unconstitutional burden on a woman’s right to an abortion.

The European Union moved to slap tougher sanctions on Russia as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said hundreds of foreign tanks are operating in his country and pleaded for EU help.

"Ukraine now is a subject of foreign military aggression and terror," Poroshenko told reporters in Brussels before a summit today with leaders of EU member states. "Thousands of foreign troops and hundreds of foreign tanks are now on the territory of Ukraine."

EU leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande are meeting in Brussels to elect a new president and foreign-policy chief of the 28-nation bloc. They are also meeting with Poroshenko, who held talks earlier today with EU President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Barroso.

The US has imposed new sanctions on companies and individuals in connection with Iran's nuclear programme.

The sanctions target at least 25 firms and people suspected of helping the programme, evading previous sanctions or supporting terrorism.

But Washington said its actions were still consistent with its commitment to provide sanctions relief in exchange for steps to halt the programme.

World powers suspect Iran seeks atomic weapons, a claim it strongly denies.

Originally posted on August 28, 2014:

After protestors in Ferguson, Missouri, were met with a militarized police force, new attention was brought to the Pentagon's 1033 program, a program that supplies military-grade equipment to local police departments, often for free. Check out a commercial Reason TV has unearthed advertising the program to law enforcement.

For more Reason.com coverage on police militarization click here.

Approximately 1:37 in length.

Performed by Will Neff. Written and produced by Neff and Paul Detrick.

Watch the video above, or click below for downloadable versions. Subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube channel for daily content like this.

The United States is not aware of any specific threat to the U.S. homeland from Islamic State militants, the Department of Homeland Security said on Friday after Britain raised its international terrorism threat level.

Islamic State militants and their supporters, however, "have demonstrated the intent and capability to target American citizens overseas," Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. He noted that DHS took steps over the summer to strengthen security at overseas airports with direct flights to the United States.

U.S. consumer spending fell in July for the first time in six months, but confidence among households hit a seven-year high in August, suggesting the retrenchment would be temporary.

Another report on Friday showed a sharp acceleration in factory activity in the Midwest this month, a further sign the economy remains on solid ground.

"The weakness in spending will quickly subside this fall as consumer confidence is supported by record highs in the stock market, rising housing prices and improving labor market conditions," said Michael Woolfolk, global markets strategist at BNY Mellon in New York.